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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

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Archive for July, 2009

AirVue

The AirVue golf GPS application for the iPhone provides a simple user interface, satellite views that include distances to layup targets and hazards, and the ability to determine the distance to any point on the hole. We applaud the crisp overheard satellite views and friendly interface, but wish it had the ability to pan or zoom within a hole – the fairway view displayed is based on what AirVue believes is the appropriate landing area for your next shot, with which you may or may not agree. Distances do not always continue to update during the hole, so users should be sure to either tap the screen at their desired landing point or change views to receive updated distances. Lastly, be sure to check if your favorite courses are available – relatively poor course coverage is one of the negatives of the AirVue application.

SCORE
89
GRADE
B+
Course Availability
75
Starting a Round
94
Ease of Use
82
Course Details
92
Features
95
Accuracy
90
Cost/Value
96

Pros:

  • Least expensive golf GPS application that we tested
  • Satellite maps display distances to hazards and layups
  • Solid scoring and statistics – for all players in a group
  • Provides club recommendations for shots

Cons:

  • Inability to pan and zoom as desired – the user is at the whim of what the app thinks is the appropriate view
  • Distances may not continuously update
  • Initial course load time can be long, depending on your wireless signal

Price: $9.99
Availability: Discontinued. As of mid-2013 this app was no longer available in the iTunes App Store.


75 / C

Course Availability
Critical Golf Test: AirVue lags the top iPhone applications with 75% coverage in our course coverage analysis. Coverage of “Top 100″ courses was strong (19 of 20), but tailed off significantly in other course types, most notably in “Best New” courses (7 out of 20). Coverage in all regions was roughly equal, with the West (13 out of 20) trailing other geographies.
Manufacturer’s Claims: AirVue claims to have over 18,000 courses in its database, which puts it in the middle of the pack among iPhone applications.


94 / A

Starting a Round
The Good: Because AirVue loads the data for the entire course at the start of the round, there is no delay during play as you change zoom levels within a hole or move between holes.
The Bad: The tradeoff for the quick transitions described above is that there is a longer initial loading time when the course is first selected (though it’s a tradeoff we readily accept). While courses can sometimes load in under a minute, poor signal strength can cause the load time to vary wildly, so it is best to plan ahead and either load the course before you leave the house or while warming up on the range.
Details: After the application is launched, you have the choice to select from a list of nearby courses (listed alphabetically, as opposed to proximity to current location, which didn’t make any sense to us), search for a specific course, or go to a list of courses previously played. Selection of the course initiates the process of downloading the course, which we found can take anywhere from under a minute to up to 10 minutes, depending on whether you are at home on a wireless connection or at a course with spotty network coverage. As there is no hole handicap information included, you will not need to select the tees you are playing.
If you are returning to a round after exiting the application, you will be prompted to start where you left off – AirVue automatically remembers your last hole and also all of the scores entered, no there is no need to pause or save your round before exiting.


82 / B-

Ease of Use
The Good: AirVue has an exceptionally simple interface, so users won’t have to spend any time poring through a manual. Navigation is straightforward, as the application provides one main screen from which the user navigates between the Hole, Fairway and Green views (see “Course Detail and Mapping” below for a full description of the views), and a basic scorecard. The design of the crosshairs is quite nice – they appear above where the user touches the screen, with a small hole in the center to use for pinpointing targets. In satellite views AirVue helpfully indicates the player’s position with a red dot, and also displays hazards and targets.
The Bad: The user doesn’t have the ability to pan and zoom within the hole to see the landing area desired, but rather can only see the area AirVue thinks is most appropriate. This can cause problems right off the bat, with long hitters finding the fairway views don’t extend as far as their drives.
We weren’t able to determine a pattern for when the application would decide to automatically update distances update as the user progresses through the hole versus when it would require the user to tap the screen on the desired target point or change views to receive updated distances. Compare this to virtually all of the other iPhone applications, which continuously update distances during the hole. When a user reaches their ball we recommended pausing for 5 to 10 seconds to confirm the reading will be accurate, and also tapping on the screen at desired targets or landing area to confirm AirVue has updated distances.

Details:

  • Buttons. Like other iPhone golf GPS applications, everything is accessed through touchscreen buttons – those buttons that appear on screen and are touched to navigate the application. Upon launching the application, there are buttons for searching for nearby or recently played courses, or the option to search for a specific course. There is also a dedicated help button.Navigation buttons are placed in a toolbar at the bottom of the display, and include arrow buttons to move to the previous or next hole, a button to mark shot distances, a button to toggle between hole views (Hole, Fairway or Green) and a button to access the statistics screen. From the statistics screen you can enter the scorecard view if desired.
  • Battery Life. Every iPhone golf GPS application that we tested (including the AirVue) was a battery hog. We are guessing AirVue is trying to conserve the battery by not updating distances as often as other applications, which seems to extend the life of the battery a bit more than competitors. With each application tested, we were able to complete a single round, but two would be pushing it. See our intro to iPhone golf GPS applications for ways to conserve battery life during play.

92 / A-

Course Detail and Mapping
The Good: Users can touch the map to select any point on a hole and receive the distance both to the selected point and the distance from that point to all the other marked targets on the hole (such as the center of the green, bunkers, hazards, et al). It’s nifty to move your finger around and see all of the different target distances instantly updated. And unlike many other applications, you can see the distance to where you are pointing on the touchscreen as it is displayed above the touch point. Very well done.
The Bad: There aren’t as many marked hazards/targets as there could be, which defeats the purpose of the very nice feature of combining the satellite view and hazard/target distances. In our test rounds, we encountered an extremely large number of obvious hazards/targets that were not marked, most notably prominent water hazards (both creeks and ponds), bunkers, and doglegs, as well as some mis-marked green front and back points. We also played one course that had a whopping 5 holes with pars incorrectly listed, which might be bearable if you could edit the scorecard pars, but unfortunately you can’t. And finally, during one of our test rounds the last three holes had no images available – not good!

Details:

AirVue iPhone Golf GPS Application

Click image for features
  • Views. AirVue has an easy to use interface, with three different views. Each satellite image is shown assuming the user is at the tee box or center of the fairway, approaching the green that is displayed at the top of the screen. To start a hole, AirVue displays the last view selected on the previous hole – a bit unusual, as you will most likely then be starting each hole in green view, as opposed to the relevant view to start the hole (such as a focus on the landing area for the drives when a user is beginning a par 5).
    AirVue doesn’t rotate views based on player position.

    • Hole view – This is the highest-level view, usually showing most of the hole (though for some reason, rarely the tee box), and on a few occasions showing the entire hole and some surrounding area. Depending on the course, we saw up to five targets and hazards marked, along with the center of the green (though the front and back edges were NOT marked). Target distances are color-coded, with a red background for hazards, dark green background for layup or driving targets, and a light green background for the center of the green. This image does not change during play of the hole.
    • Fairway view – On par 4s and par 5s there are two fairway views shown during play of the hole. This view is the next level of zoom from the hole view, and the area displayed is based on what AirVue thinks is the most relevant landing area for your next shot – there is no ability for the user to pan to show more of the hole or advance to the next fairway view. The initial view generally covers from the start of the fairway (it usually does not show the tee box) to approximately 235 to 260 yards from the tee box, which is a problem for long hitters, who won’t be able to see their landing area in this view. The second view, available on par 4s and par 5s, includes the remaining fairway and green, and will be displayed starting approximately 235 and 275 yards from the center of the green. Like the Hole view, the Fairway view shows the distance to up to 5 targets and hazards and the center of the green, and also adds the distance to the front and back of the green.
    • Green view – The Green view shows the green along with some of the surrounding terrain, including the approach area and the greenside hazards. Distances to the front, center and back of the green are shown.
  • Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on all screens views for the course. Hole handicap is not available.
  • Custom Mapping. Like other iPhone golf GPS applications, AirVue does not allow users to add custom hazards and targets to the course map.

Suggestion Box: It would be nice to be able to “lock” down the crosshairs when selecting a target point, so you could take your time evaluating your next shot (maybe a simple double-tap?). Currently, the crosshairs and distance reading will disappear as soon as you lift your finger from the screen.


95 / C

Features
The Good: AirVue offers the ability to track both scores and statistics for up to four players.
The Bad: We seen bugs on several occasions. In one repeated case, when a player exits AirVue during a round and then returns to play, all scores that were entered to that point in the round are deleted (argh!). We have also had most of our original preference settings, including all club distances, unceremoniously erased several times from memory in between rounds. Quite a pain…

Details:

AirVue iPhone Golf GPS Application

Click image for features
  • Shot Tracking. AirVue can track the distance of shots (but not what club was used).
  • Club Recommendation. AirVue allows users to enter maximum distances for each of their clubs from within the Settings menu. Based on these distances, when the user selects a point on the hole the distance both to that point and to the green be displayed on screen, the recommended club to use both to the target point, and the club that is recommended for the next shot.
  • Score and Statistics. AirVue has continued to improve, and now allows users to track both scores and statistics. AirVue can actually track both scores AND statistics for the user and up to three additional players (most applications will track the score for multiple players, but only keep statistics for one player). Users can track their score (entered relative to par), putts, penalty strokes, sand shots and fairways hit (or if missed, which direction). AirVue will automatically calculate greens in regulation and scrambling. Statistics from the current round cannot be viewed during play, but information from prior rounds can.
  • Auto-Advance. The AirVue will auto-advance the user from hole to hole if the application is started when you are on any tee box. If not, there is no ability to subsequently turn on the auto-advance feature, so the user will need to manually advance from hole-to-hole.
  • Preferences. AirVue has added the ability to set fairway marker distances to display in hole and fairway view as red, white and blue dots, along with driver distance which will be shown as a yellow dot. Users can also enter the clubs in their bag along with their maximum distances, which allows AirVue to display not only the distance to a point selected, but also the recommended club for that distance. Very nice improvements.

90 / B+

Mapping Accuracy
Mapping Accuracy: AirVue showed reasonable mapping accuracy of courses, with only one mis-marked green during our testing (this on a course that would have benefited from someone on the ground to accurately determine and map green edges, which most iPhone GPS applications, including AirVue, do not have). The recurring theme with all of the iPhone golf GPS applications that we tested is that updating of distances takes a few seconds (noticeably longer than with dedicated golf GPS devices), so users are advised to pause upon reaching the ball to give the application a chance to lock on to the satellites. As mentioned, the AirVue seems to take a bit longer than others to lock onto satellites to update distances.


96 / A

Cost/Value
Retail Price: AirVue retails for an incredibly low $9.99 and by a wide margin the least expensive application in our comparison test.
Fees for Access to Course Database: AirVue does not charge for access to the course database – all courses are included with the cost of the application.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With a one-time fee of $9.99 and no additional charges, the AirVue application is far and away the least expensive in our cost comparison over three years (assuming downloading a certain number of new courses every year).
Value: At $9.99, AirVue offers a tantalizing price for those looking to step into iPhone golf GPS applications. It offers most of the advanced features and functionality of the best applications and a price that is tough to beat.


Tested: v2.3

FlyCaddie

The FlyCaddie golf GPS application tries to keep it simple for iPhone owners, though in doing so, it deprives players of the features that can make golf GPS applications so valuable. Unlike competing applications, there is no ability to drop a cursor to determine the distance from your location to any point on the hole and while strokes and putts can be tracked (albeit in an odd manner described below), no detailed statistic tracking is offered. FlyCaddie also took a beating in our course coverage analysis of iPhone golf GPS applications, finishing last by a long margin. And last but not least, the FlyCaddie charges a yearly subscription fee, as opposed to other applications that only require a one-time fee. With no improvements to its features or functionality and little to course coverage since its initial release, this application seems to be someone’s hobby rather than a serious effort. If you are looking to purchase a golf GPS application for your iPhone, we recommend that you look elsewhere – you can find much more for far less.

SCORE
70
GRADE
C-
Course Availability
37
Starting a Round
96
Ease of Use
85
Course Details
72
Features
74
Accuracy
92
Cost/Value
60

Pros:

  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Lacks ability to determine distances to user selected points
  • No full hole view nor ability to zoom
  • A YEARLY subscription fee (oh – and the yearly fee is already higher than the one-time charges of the competition)
  • Worst course coverage of any of the iPhone applications tested

Availability: FlyCaddie is no longer available on the iTunes Store


37 / F

Course Availability
Critical Golf Test: FlyCaddie sits dead last relative to other iPhone applications in our test of the availability of golf courses with 37% coverage – ouch! With such poor coverage, it isn’t worth going into detail on specific coverage gaps by type of course or geographic region.

Manufacturer’s Claims: FlyCaddie claims to have 4,000 courses in its database, which puts it last among its iPhone application competitors.


92 / A-

Starting a Round
The Good: FlyCaddie loads the desired course faster than some of its competitors (although the reason is likely because it offers more limited satellite images).
The Bad: Poor search functionality for selecting courses, which is compounded by misspellings of course names in the course database. There were no satellite images for a number of courses tested, though the simple green graphic and text listing of hazard distances were still available.
Details: After selecting “Play” from the main menu, the user has the option of selecting from either a list of nearby courses, a list of recently played courses that the user has saved, or simply searching for a course by name. After selecting a course, the user can choose to see additional information on the course, view a Google map of the course, or begin play. As with other applications, we found it easiest to wait until we arrived at the course and then simply select the course from the list of nearby courses, although another reason is because we found the course search functionality to be suspect at best (if Main Street Municipal Golf Course is already mapped, you will not find it by just entering “Main Street” and choosing the state and/or city). Additionally, we ran into a number of misspellings of course names in the FlyCaddie database, and were just lucky in stumbling upon some of the courses we were looking for.


85 / B

Ease of Use
The Good: While not as polished as other applications, the FlyCaddie has an easy to use interface. Users need only swipe their finger across the screen to select from the multiple pages with hole information, and use the touchscreen buttons to navigate elsewhere (consistent across screens).
The Bad: We would certainly prefer additional satellite images and a “you are here” indicator to show where the user is on the image relative to the flagstick. And if the user either navigates away from the course being played (such as to go to the main menu to change preferences) or exits the application during the round, all information entered to that point will be erased – argh!

Details:

  • Buttons. Like other iPhone golf GPS applications, everything is accessed through touchscreen buttons – those buttons that appear on screen to navigate the application. Upon launching the application, there are buttons to begin play, view your history (if you have saved scorecards), and access settings. After you have started a round, there are always buttons to take you to the previous or next hole (there is no auto-advance feature), the scorecard, the main menu, or to hop to a hole of choice.If you are on the “green view” page, there will be the option to track your shot distances (why this isn’t on other screens we aren’t sure), and if you are on the scorecard page, there is a button to enter the score (which you can only do for the hole that you are currently playing – if you want to enter the score for another hole then you will need to navigate to that hole first, then enter the scorecard). Entering the score and number of putts for up to 4 players is done through “+” and “-“ buttons.
  • Battery Life. Every iPhone golf GPS application that we tested (including the FlyCaddie) was a battery hog. With each application tested, we were able to complete a single round, but wound up with a dead phone shortly thereafter. Check out our intro to iPhone golf GPS applications for ways to conserve battery life during play.

72 / C-

Course Detail and Mapping
The Good: FlyCaddie provides a satellite image of the green and approach area, so the user can get some context on the terrain surrounding the hole.
The Bad: There is only one satellite image provided per hole, so there is no zooming or panning available. On top of that, there is no ability to obtain the distance to a selected point on the satellite image. We found that the FlyCaddie trails its competitors in the number of marked hazards on each hole.
Details:

  • Views. FlyCaddie offers three different hole views. You move between the three by simply swiping your finger left or right across the page.
    • Green view – The screen that first appears when you begin a hole is a graphic of a green (not a satellite image or picture, just a generic green drawing that doesn’t reflect the actual shape of the green) with distances provided to the front, center and back. There is no ability to place a flagstick icon to receive a more accurate estimated distance. Strike one.
    • Green and approach view – The next option is a satellite image of only the green and approach area. Users can’t interact with the image – there is no ability to place a cursor to obtain distances, or to pan across or zoom on the image. And oddly enough, no yardages are displayed in the Green/Approach view. Really, now why would you do that? Not even the distance remaining to the center of the green? Strike two.
    • Hazard view – The third option is a listing of certain hazards/targets, along with the distance to reach each hazard/target, a generic photo indicating what kind of hazard/target it is, and the additional yardage required to carry each hazard/target. Mind you, this is not the TOTAL yardage to carry the hazard/target, so you need to do a little math. Generally we found two to four hazards included per hole, which is less than what we saw in other applications. Unfortunately, the location of the hazards shown are not indicated on satellite image, nor is there any text to provide details on the hazard – users can only guess if the information refers to a hazard on the left or right side of the hole, or which bunker in a cluster. And as target points are not marked anywhere, it is unclear as to which point on the hazard the distance refers – so for a bunker with fingers or a body of water with an undulating edge, it’s anyone’s guess what a safe lay-up distance would be. An additional note is that dogleg points are not indicated, and given that doglegs can’t be seen in the limited satellite image (which focuses on just the green area), you are left blind. Steeeeeeeerikkkkke THREE! (picture, if you will, Enrico Palazzo from “The Naked Gun”).
  • Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on all screens views for the course. Hole handicap is not available.

Suggestion Box: More satellite images, especially a hole overview, please! It would also be much more user-friendly to be able to see all distance information (i.e. hazard distances and green front/center/back) within the same view. And to keep up with the competition, FlyCaddie absolutely must add the ability to determine distances to any point selected on the hole via the touchscreen.


74 / C

Features
The Good: Ability to save your scores to FlyCaddie’s server and share them with family and friends (we presume that like everyone else, you will only share the good ones – the bad ones never happened, right?).
The Bad: Oy vey, where to start? If you want to track statistics, best to look elsewhere. Curious glitch where it will erase your score if you exit the application during play. No ability to auto-advance to the next hole.
Details:

  • Shot Tracking. FlyCaddie provides a simple button to track the distance of shots, though for some reason it is available only within the green view screen.
  • Score and Statistics.
    • Users have the ability to enter only their strokes (NOT score, but rather ONLY strokes with any club other than a putter) and putts. This places the FlyCaddie behind all other iPhone golf GPS applications in statistics tracking.
    • After strokes and putts are entered for a given hole, FlyCaddie will show the total score and the score relative to par for that hole. The full scorecard shows the par, yardages from the different tees, score, and total score. Although you enter the number of putts each hole, we couldn’t find where this information is stored or can be reviewed after the round. If you choose to save your data to the server, you will be able to access your historical scorecards from your iPhone as well as mail them to your family and friends to boast about your latest round. The scorecards are not, however, available online when you sign in to your FlyCaddie account.
    • From the scorecard screen you cannot select the hole for which to enter information, so if you neglect to enter a score for several holes, or wish to modify a previous entry on number of strokes or putts, you need to navigate back to that hole first, enter the score, then return to the current hole.
    • We can’t say this enough: if you exit the course you are playing during the round, all scores and statistics will be erased – there is no option to save a round during play and then return. The only time round information will be saved is after entering a score for the 18th hole. A dialog box will appear to “Save data on server” – you should definitely choose “yes” if you ever want to see your scores again, either online or on the iPhone itself. Once the data has been saved, you can then navigate to the “History” section from the application main menu to review old scorecards, as well as email old scorecards. Unfortunately you need to swipe your finger across the screen or use a “next” button to get to the scorecard you would like to review, so if there are dozens of scorecards saved, it’s a pain to get to the one you are trying to find. Would it really have been that hard to make a list of historical rounds with date, and allow the player to just press to select which one they would like to access?
  • Auto-Advance. The FlyCaddie does not offer functionality to automatically advance the user to the next hole – the user always needs to manually advance.
  • Preferences. FlyCaddie has limited preference settings – the ability to enter names for three other players, a setting to help find nearby courses, the ability to turn the scorecard on and off, and an option to adjust the font size for the courses listed when initially searching prior to play.

92 / A-

Mapping Accuracy
Mapping Accuracy: Though information was sparse in comparison to other devices to targets like hazards, overall we found no problems with mapping accuracy during our rounds with FlyCaddie, generally within the standard 3-4 yard difference from marked tee boxes and sprinkler heads.


60 / D-

Cost/Value
Retail Price: At $34.99, the FlyCaddie Golf application for the iPhone was the second highest priced application in our comparison test. But note that the price is actually $34.99 PER YEAR, not just for the one-time purchase.
Fees for Access to Course Database: As mentioned, there is a recurring $34.99 annual subscription fee – all courses are included with the annual fee.
Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With a three year total cost of $104.97, FlyCaddie was the second most expensive application in our cost comparison.
Value: At $104.97 over three years, the FlyCaddie joins GolfLogix as the stratospherically priced applications in our test. We’re not sure that ANY feature set could justify such a price differential – the fact that we found the FlyCaddie to be behind its competitors in feature set and usability just makes things worse.


Tested: v1.0

Golfshot

Editor’s Note: We have updated the review below to reflect the release of version 3.4 of Golfshot (in Fall 2012), which is iOS 6 ready – we tested it on an iPhone 4S, because sadly, we do not yet have an iPhone 5 (er, yet…).

Golfshot is our favorite golf GPS application for the iPhone, not only providing a tremendous feature set, but also delivering great value, even as one of the most expensive apps on the market (and at a price of $29.99, it’s not really going to break the bank unless your primary source of revenue is the Tooth Fairy).

Golfshot provides both a text list of distances for a number of targets on each hole and overhead satellite images with the ability to zoom and pan on each hole. The design of the scorecards and statistics, along with the ability to view the data on either your mobile device or online on your computer, is simply fantastic. An exceptional range of user settings is the icing on the cake.

We could go on (and if you’ve read some of our reviews, you’re aware that rambling for page upon page is well within our capabilities), but will instead simply state that if you are searching for an iPhone golf GPS application, look no further than Golfshot.

Pros:

  • Satellite images with ability to zoom and pan
  • Can determine distance to any point on the hole, and distance from targeted point to the center of the green
  • Large number of targets and hazards marked
  • Extremely well designed statistics tracking, both on the iPhone and online
  • Wide variety of preference settings
SCORE
93
GRADE
A-
Course Availability
100
Starting a Round
96
Ease of Use
93
Course Detail
96
Features
96
Accuracy
92
Cost/Value
94

Cons:

  • Course images download at launch, often requiring players to wait for the satellite images to initially appear
  • Can consume the etnire battery during a round (so make sure to go into sleep mode between shots)
  • No ability to add target points to pre-mapped list

Price: $29.99
Download Golfshot from iTunes


100 / A+

COURSE AVAILABILITY

Critical Golf Test: Golfshot ties for tops in our comparison of course coverage for iPhone applications, coming in at a perfect 100%!

Manufacturer’s Claims: Golfshot claims to have 40,000 courses in its database worldwide, which places it tops among its iPhone application competitors.


96 / A

STARTING A ROUND

The Good: Golfshot starts to load all satellite images when you begin the round, so in most cases there is no delay as you move either between zoom levels within a hole or advance between holes. And unlike some iPhone golf GPS applications, Golfshot allows you to begin play as soon as the first hole images are available, rather than forcing you to wait until all course images are loaded. Even better, if you are playing in a shotgun event, Golfshot will load the hole you advance to first then process the others afterwards – the only application tested that does so.

The Bad: As with any iPhone golf GPS application, it can take up to a few minutes to load the images for even just one hole, depending on wireless coverage, so it’s best to launch Golfshot before heading to the first tee (or better yet, prior to heading to the course).

Details: From the main menu, you have the choice to either Play Golf or, if you haven’t ended the last round, resume a round in progress. When you choose to Play Golf from the main menu, you can view a list of nearby courses (listed by distance from your current location), a list of courses you have played in the past, browse for courses, or search for a course by name. You then simply select the course, select the tees you will play, the starting hole (if other than hole #1), add golfers to your round for scoring, and begin. If you are playing in a new region, don’t forget to turn on syncing for that region to make sure courses are available. If you forget, courses in that region won’t appear in the nearby list nor will you be able to search for them.


93 / A-

EASE OF USE

The Good: Golfshot has the cleanest and most user-friendly interface of all the iPhone golf GPS applications we tested. Two screens provide all of the distance information you need, one through images and one via text (see ‘Course Detail and Mapping’, below). Holes are always shown from the same viewpoint, with a blue dot indicating the player’s position. Easy to access menus and navigate screens.

The Bad: We would prefer if some key target distances were provided within the satellite image, simply to have some context to start the hole. In addition, understanding some of the nuances of the interface requires either playing a number of rounds or reading the manual (the nerve!). These little tricks are fantastic for both conveying a vast amount of information in a nice clean display or allowing quick access, but may not be intuitive to the first time user. Fortunately, users can download and view the user manual from within the application.

Details:

  • Buttons. Like other iPhone golf GPS applications, everything is accessed through touchscreen buttons – those buttons that appear on screen and are touched to navigate the application.
    Upon launching the application, users are presented with a screen with big buttons that can be selected to:

    Golfshot iPhone Golf GPS Application

    Click for large view
    • Play a round (or resume your round, which is a useful option in case you exit the Golfshot application and then return),
    • View historical statistics,
    • View scorecards from past rounds, or
    • Adjust account information/user settings, including entering your clubs (which feeds into the clubs from which you can select when entering statistics), selecting whether the scoring and statistics functions are enabled, et al.

    Buttons are clearly labeled and intuitive. The user interface generally allows accessing different features without returning to a main menu – for example, the same row of buttons generally appears at the bottom of every screen, allowing the user to go to the next or previous hole, change hole views, utilize the scorecard or access information about the hole. This type of design makes the application easy to learn and easy to use, and is something we hope more application designers will copy.

    Entering score and statistics is a cinch – Golfshot uses slot-machine style rollers (to which most users of iPhone applications are accustomed) for entering data, see ‘Features’ section, below. And as mentioned above, you can even turn off some of the functionality or buttons if you prefer to keep things simple.

  • Battery Life. Every iPhone golf GPS application that we tested, including Golfshot, was a battery hog unless managed tightly. If you use Golfshot regularly throughout the round and don’t power down, you can burn through a full charge in the course of a five-hour round. If you lock the phone when not in use, you can constrain battery usage to under 50% during a round. Golfshot also enables the user to keep the GPS on while dimming the screen in order to preserve battery strength without foregoing quick access to distance readings. See our intro to iPhone golf GPS applications for additional ways to conserve battery life during play, and we highly recommend the purchase of an iPhone battery pack.

96 / A

COURSE DETAIL AND MAPPING

The Good: The ability to select any point on the course and receive both the distance to the point and the distance from the point to the green. Golfshot also provides a comprehensive listing of hazards/targets on the hole.

The Bad: No ability to add custom points to the list of targets. Distances to pre-mapped targets are not displayed in the satellite view.

Golfshot iPhone Golf GPS Application

Click image for views

Details:

  • Views. Golfshot keeps the interface nice and clean through its Aerial and GPS Target views. At 250 yards from the center of the green, the Aerial view will automatically advance to a view of the green and approach area, and the Target will show the distance to the green in a larger font (the cost of which is that it will list one fewer target point in order to make room on the screen).
    • Aerial view – The Aerial View is an overhead satellite image view of the hole that provides (a) three levels of zoom, (b) the ability to place the crosshair anywhere on the hole to receive both the distance to the selected point and the distance from that point to the green, and (c) the ability to pan up, down and side to side on the satellite image. The zoom (“+”) button will focus on the center of the green, or users can double-tap the screen to zoom in where touched (allowing players to zoom up to two times). If layup targets are activated, they will be displayed on the center of the fairway (see more on layup targets below). On many apps and stand-alone golf GPS devices, when the user places the crosshair, the distance to that point appears below the crosshair and thus is usually blocked from view by the user’s finger. Golfshot deals with this nicely by briefly displaying that distance at the very top of the screen, where the distance to the center of the green is normally shown. This type of attention to detail is top-notch.

      Since the initial release, Golfshot has added a “FocusView” option, which shades the areas outside of the hole and allows the player to more quickly focus on hole shape, and is marketed toward making it easier to read in sunlight (we aren’t sure about the latter, but we do like the focus on the hole in play).

    • GPS Target view – The GPS Target view is a text listing of all mapped hazard/target points on the hole. Our experience was that the Golfshot provides the most comprehensive set of hazards/targets of any of the iPhone golf GPS applications we tested (we saw up to 17 points mapped on one hole, and Golfshot claims that it maps up to 40 points on a hole). As a bonus, the “Layup Distance” feature enables users to enter four distances and corresponding clubs, and the targets will then appear both in the Aerial view and the GPS Target view (below). As with many features of the Golfshot application, users have the ability to turn off the layup distance functionality. Unfortunately, these clubs/distance pairings are not linked to your club average distances if you are tracking those (see below under “Shot Tracking”).
  • Hole Information. The hole number and par are available on all views. Hole handicap is available on the information screen, which is accessible through the Aerial and Target screens.
  • Custom Mapping. Golfshot does not allow users to add custom hazards and targets to the course map. As described above, however, it does allow users to add up to four custom layup points, which will appear in both the GPS Target (as target symbols) and Aerial views.

Suggestion Box: It would be useful to have the distances to certain hazards/targets available on the Aerial View, so users could quickly see distances to specific points without having to touch the screen to select them. We also would like an easy way to clear targeted points from the screen (without advancing a hole and then returning, as is currently required).


96 / A

FEATURES

The Good: Golfshot has the strongest set of features and settings available on any iPhone golf GPS application. Moreover, the excellent design makes the features and settings easy to find and easy to use.

The Bad: Auto advance to the next hole would be nice.

Details:

  • Shot Tracking. Golfshot has the ability to track the distance of shots. The method of activating the shot tracking (you touch the hole number) is probably the least intuitive design choice – but it’s there, and once you learn where it is, it’s easily accessible. Through the new ‘Track Menu’ you can quickly access your club averages to see your average distances, shot location result (left, center or right), and even the number of shots to use in calculating these numbers. The new menu isn’t entirely obvious – if you want to both track your shots and also add each shot distance to calculate the average distance you hit your clubs, you have to engage in two different processes. In addition, if you are tracking and calculating distance averages for the same shot, you’ll need to re-enter the same club you used and the location of the shot. And if you are keeping stats for the hole, you’ll have to enter the shot location result for the drive…yet again. One last note – you can only delete a club distance from being included in the club average if you have tracked the shot as well.
  • Golfshot Scoring and Statistics

    Click for feature images
  • Score and Statistics. Golfshot provides standard inputs for scoring (score and number of putts), along with the ability to enter the club used off the tee, the location of the drive (fairway, or miss left/right), the number of sand shots, and the number of penalty strokes. Scoring is available for up to eight players.
    • Golfshot is smart enough to restrict the entry of certain statistics based on what is actually possible for the hole – i.e. you won’t be able to enter that you had a 5 on the hole with 4 putts and 2 penalty strokes. It may seem minor, but again, it’s this type of detail that sets Golfshot apart. There are also statistics available for each hole, so you can see your historical averages for each hole for fairways hit, GIR (Golfshot does a calculation to back into whether or not you had a GIR based on score and putts), score and putts.
    • You can pause (this will not save your scorecard, but keeps it available to start the next time you launch Golfshot) or save a round at any time. When you save a round, the scorecard will be automatically e-mailed to you, nicely formatted with a link to the full set of statistics available online (along with historical scorecards and statistics). Statistics are available both during the round or online following the round (the same information is available on both). Users also may change scores and statistics after the round in case a mistake was made. Impressively, users can select a date range or last number of rounds and view statistics for that custom period.
    • If scoring for just one, the main scorecard screen will show the score, putts, fairways hit, GIR, sand and penalty information, as well as score relative to par through that point in the round. If keeping score for two or more players, the main scorecard screen will only show the score and score relative to par. Want to see the stats for a specific player? Just press on their name and the full assortment of tracked stats appears. Again, not intuitive, but it’s easy enough to access once you learn where to find it.
  • Auto-Advance. Golfshot will not auto-advance from hole to hole, so the user needs to manually advance to the next hole.
  • Preferences. Golfshot enables the user to modify a wide variety of settings, including the ability to turn off most of the features. Users can thus simplify the application as much as desired. Hey, choice is a good thing!

    The barrage of preference settings includes customizing layup distances and clubs (mentioned previously), hole statistics, aerial view, the display of handicap strokes received per hole, yards vs. meters, what clubs are in your bag, what geographical region of courses to regularly sync and more. If you have purchased Golfscape, the augmented reality application available from the makers of Golfshot, you will also have the ability to toggle it on and off.

Suggestion Box: After account preferences are changed, Golfshot will give the users the option to “Sync” or “Cancel” to return to the previous screen. When you receive options like this, you can go ahead and hit “Cancel” and your setting will be saved. The “Sync” button will force the app to check for course updates, which is usually not what you want to do during the round – this should be clearer. Also, we would prefer if users were able to go directly to a hole to edit scores or stats if there was an error, instead of having to advance through each hole sequentially.


92 / A-

MAPPING ACCURACY

Mapping Accuracy: Golfshot showed solid mapping accuracy – in our test rounds on a variety of courses, we found the distances displayed by Golfshot to stay within 4 yards of those displayed by marked tee boxes and sprinklerheads.


94 / A

COST/VALUE

Retail Price: At $29.99, Golfshot carries the highest initial price in our comparison test.

Fees for Access to Course Database: There is no cost to access the course database. All courses and updates are included within the cost of the application.

Three-Year Total Cost of Ownership: With only a one-time fee of $29.99, Golfshot is average in our three-year cost comparison across applications.

Value: The Golfshot golf GPS application for the iPhone provides the best value for the money among the applications we tested, offering the best features and functionality at an extremely reasonable price. It’s worth every penny.

Tested: v3.4